Tag Archives: fall garden

Garden in August, Eastern NC, Zone 7b

August 5, 2015

Beginning of JulyNieto Photography 2015Beginning of AugustNieto Photography 2015Walking through the garden, to the left you will see I have my future fall garden covered. I do not start seeds indoors (no money/space) so to start my fall garden, I sow seeds in a shady spot and use a shade cloth. Last year was my first year trying it and it worked pretty well. I am sowing brassicas every two weeks and covering them as they sprout.

I also just started sowing carrots. My fall carrots last year did not do well. There was spotty germination (I assume because of the heat) and then whatever did sprout was eaten down. I do not know what ate them but it was suggested to me to combat whatever bug it was with DE. I noticed some of the first sprouts coming through so I went ahead and sprinkled DE over the rows of carrots.Nieto Photography 2015(This area is shaded on the west with tomato plants and on the east with sunflowers. Maybe that will help with the heat and germination rates.)

To the right, you see our sunflowers are looking great 🙂 They are starting to droop so I am expecting to be able to harvest them in a couple of weeks. We will give them to the chickens while they are moulting for extra protein and then dry some in the basement to give to the chickens throughout the winter.Nieto Photography 2015Though I tied up the tomatoes about a month or more ago, they have grown more and need to be tied up again. It is on my to-do list for this week. They are doing really well though! We harvest buckets daily. If we could get all of the critters out of the garden, we would be harvesting even more! The plants are doing great 🙂Nieto Photography 2015I must say, I have not found the best way to grow tomatoes. Last year we tied them to cattle panel. It did okay. This year, I thought it would be a good idea for them to climb up this repurposed chicken tractor. However, the tomatoes that grow next to the netting tend to rot b/c the black netting is so hot….still brainstorming for the perfect (for us) way to tie up tomato plants.

Next up, the melons. The ones that are caged are doing well. The ones that are not are…well…not. We have harvested about 3 cantaloupe so far and I am thinking we will be harvesting some watermelon this week 🙂Nieto Photography 2015We are still getting a trickling of strawberries and our raspberries that have grown taller than a groundhog can reach :\ are starting to really produce for us!Nieto Photography 2015 Nieto Photography 2015 Nieto Photography 2015Look in the picture below. The raspberry plants within the strings are ones I planted. ALL the greenery around that? Yeah, those are raspberry shoots. I am going to rip all of those up this fall and transplant them. If anyone local would like some free raspberry plants, please let me know! Nieto Photography 2015We have about 5 different sections where we are harvesting green and purple beans. Section 6 is growing larger and the last section of green beans was just planted.Nieto Photography 2015(section 6 of green beans)

What’s left of our potato patch (what hasn’t been harvested) is doing well…Nieto Photography 2015And at the end of the garden is the sweet potato patch. It is looking healthy and is spreading as it should 🙂Nieto Photography 2015Spread throughout the garden is a variety of flowers, some planted from seed, some gifted to us.Nieto Photography 2015 Nieto Photography 2015 Nieto Photography 2015 Nieto Photography 2015That is our garden in a nutshell 🙂 If you notice, we are in August and not a weed in sight! I could NEVER say that when I gardened the traditional way! LOVE Back to Eden gardening!!!

Oops! Let me not forget about the chickens 🙂 They gave us as many eggs in July as in June (a little less than 200). Our chicks are all getting big but their combs are not yet red. It would be nice if their first eggs lined up with the older chickens moulting. We’ll see. We have a broody hen who is set to hatch her chicks next week. I do not think we’ll let another one go broody after that because we are going on vacation at the beginning of September. If we can keep these chicks from being eaten (that has happened to about half of our chicks this year 😦 ), we will have 17 chicks. Which means we will have doubled our flock. Oh, that would be WONDERFUL! But we’ll see. Since we hatched them out, we don’t even know how many roos and pullets we have.

So What’s On Tap for August?

We will harvest the sunflower and potato patch fully. We will also pull up all of the dried beans. We will continue to harvest cucumbers, melons, beans, tomatoes, raspberries, strawberries, and squash. Mainly though, we will be preparing for the fall garden. This means lots of planting and (whenever I get more energy) a lot of compost-spreading!

The fall crops I am planting this month:

  • cabbages
  • broccoli
  • beets
  • carrots
  • kale
  • lettuce
  • spinach

I will also plant seeds to go under a tunnel for winter harvesting:

  • cabbages
  • broccoli
  • purple and green sprouting broccoli
  • carrots
  • beets

What does your garden look like at the beginning of August? What are you planting for your fall garden?

I am linking up with Green Thumb Thursdays today.


Harvest Monday

August 11, 2014


We continue to harvest tomatoesDSC_5163peppersDSC_5158Nieto Family - August 07 14 - 0002Nieto Family - August 08 14 - 0046zucchini, cucumbers,Nieto Family - August 07 14 - 0001DSC_5156This is our last yellow squash. I had to finally rip up the plant. Most of the squash was rotting before it grew to a harvestable size, it was crowding out many tomato plants, and the squash bugs were starting to take over.

…and beans. We are getting enough beans from our garden to eat fresh about 3x/week but our neighbor planted too many beans and did not want any of them to go to waste so one day this week, we went over there and picked 5 gallons of beans, snapped, blanched, and froze them. We are good with beans for the rest of the year! 🙂Nieto Family - August 08 14 - 0280We are also still getting a strawberry here and there and some kale as well. No pictures of potatoes but we still have about half of the patch left to be dug up. I am hoping it will last us until the sweet potatoes are ready…when is that, exactly? October, I think?

Fall Garden:

My kale and cabbage seedlings that were doing so well were attacked by cabbage worms this week. I know I need to cover them but I wanted to wait until later in the season because covering them also means it is hotter conditions for the seedlings and in August, I am looking how to make the seedlings cooler. What I need to do is rip the screen out of the window frames and use it to cover the seedlings but I can’t seem to find our wire cutters to make the hoops smaller and the screen is not big enough to cover the entire area as I have it covered now. I decided covering the area (though making the seedlings warmer), is the best bet right now.

Tomatoes: Our early blight is getting worse. It may have to do with our very wet summer. As I was pruning this past week, I had to rip out four tomato plants that had finally given up. We are still able to harvest tomatoes but it is only a matter of time. It will be interesting to see if we get enough tomatoes, even with all of our issues, to last us until next year, as far as enough salsa and marinara sauce. We’ll see.


It has cooled down this week quite a bit (mid0-80s) and it has been rainy so I baked all the bread to feed us for the next month, blanched and froze corn and green beans, and made marinara sauce for the first time.

I filled up the Vitamix 5 times with tomatoes. I ran it outside because the baby was asleep. 🙂 DSC_5141(this is a variety of tomatoes – indigo purple, roma, early girl, black krimm, and homestead)

This filled the crockpot twice. It took 20 hours to cook the tomato juice down to tomato sauce each time. I did this all in a row in our 9yo crockpot and by the end, it cracked 😦 Off to find a new one.DSC_5143(mid-way into cooking) DSC_5144(fully cooked down tomato sauce)

I then sauteed onions, garlic, celery, and sweet red peppers from our garden, added them to the tomato sauce with herbs, and let it cook for about 30 more minutes. In all, this made 3 quarts of marinara sauce.  The only work involved for me was making the marinara sauce. And all of this from one week of tomatoes. Not too shabby 🙂

I guess I just need to space out the heating of the crockpot. Until we get another one, I will be freezing our tomatoes whole. I do not like preserving but there are definitely benefits to doing it. I still want to be able to harvest year-round from our garden but preserving adds variety in the winter and helps out if certain crops fail.

I am all about easy though. I freeze instead of canning…use the vitamix instead of peeling and deseeding my tomatoes. I am also all about cheap/no cost. I try to freeze more in jars (I already have) than in bags that have to be bought.

If I have the room in my freezer, I like to freeze my tomatoes whole and preserve them in the winter, when I want to heat up my kitchen. What about you…are you preserving your harvest or just eating soley in season? I would LOVE an outdoor kitchen during days like these! 🙂

Head over to Daphne’s Dandelions to see what other gardeners are harvesting these days.

Fall Garden

July 24, 2014

I started year-round gardening two years ago, after reading Eliot Coleman’s book, ‘Four-Season Harvest‘…. I’m sure there are many others who have made the same decision for the same reason. It is a wonderfully inspiring book.

Year 1 (Fall 2012)

Incredibly mild. We had kale and lettuce throughout. Broccoli was able to grow slowly throughout the whole winter and we were able to harvest some April 2013February 16 13 - 0067 February 24 13 - 0116 April 10 13 - 0032 DSC_2367

Year 2 (Fall 2013)

Incredibly cold and long winter. I was able to grow kale, carrots, and one cabbage that fall. It was being eaten by cabbage worms but the chickens attacked it right before first frost. They ate all of the worms and then it was warm enough for it to finish growing but cold enough, the cabbage butterflies did not come back. I was able to harvest that head with minimal damage. DSC_3474(notice: bottom left is where the chickens were pecking at it)

However, by January, everything had died (or so we thought) and we were unable to harvest anything from February until May. Turns out, the kale I thought had died did revive in the spring, so that was nice.

I am hoping this year will be different. I am not good at covering things. You have to remember to uncover them when it gets too hot…then remember to cover them again at night…then what is growing under the cover has to be watered…it’s just too much work and too much to remember!

However, if I want to ever harvest broccoli or cabbage, I need to get with the program in regards to covering them. I want to be done feeding the cabbage worms! This also means I need to plant them all together. I tend to scatter plants throughout the garden. This works for some plants (keeps the bugs confused for a time). But nothing confuses those stinkin’ cabbage butterflies!

Things I am doing differently this year for my fall/winter garden:

  1. Planting MORE.
  2. Starting seeds in shade and then I will transplant them to a place that gets full sun during the winter that I can cover properly.
  3. Having multiple hoop houses so covering crops will be easier (hopefully?)

Planting More

My goal is to not go to the grocery store anymore one day. I try to plant more and more each season in order to achieve that goal. I read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle yearly for inspiration 🙂

The other day, I wrote down the minimum amount of what we will need to grow in order to feed our family of 8 in a year. The bare minimum. And then I doubled that. I figure by doing that, it will take care of any failed crops and it will feed others around us in need (another goal of mine).

So, the plan for this fall is to plant:

  • 100 celery seeds (or keep planting until I figure out how to get them to sprout. grrrrr)
  • 34 cabbage seeds
  • 40 kale seeds
  • 52 broccoli seeds
  • 484 carrot seeds (you can never have enough carrots!)
  • 85 beet seeds
  • 26 lettuce seeds
  • 40/50 square feet of peas
  • 260 spinach seeds

I have planted the celery, cabbage, kale, broccoli, and carrot seeds already. For my zone (7b), they had to be planted by the end of July in order to mature fully before winter. That is the goal with fall/winter gardening: getting plants to full maturity before it gets so cold, they will not grow anymore. That way, you can still harvest out of the garden in the dead of winter even though nothing is technically growing.

Starting Seeds in the Shade

I don’t plant seeds indoors (our house is tucked in the woods & I am not shelling out $$ to buy lights, shelving, heating pads…) but the summer sun is so intense, I have to figure out how to grow these delicate seedlings outdoors in the middle of our hot, North Carolina July/August.

I tried planting some in the sunflower bed, thinking they would get dappled sunlight but still stay cool enough to survive. Turns out, it was not enough sunlight.

The next round of seeds went on the east side of the potato patch. The potato patch is on the edge of the woods so it gets shade in the morning and then the seedlings were shaded enough in the afternoon by the potato plants. However, now that they are dying back, the seedlings are getting less shade. We’ll see if they survive. I am shading them from the afternoon sun with old window screens propped up by sticks right now.DSC_4888 DSC_4891(some kale in the foreground…the rest are just coming up)

My latest attempt is to plant some seeds under the apple tree. I know things grow well there. We have harvested some of our best beets, spinach, and lettuce from under that tree so far this year.

Hoop Houses

If you have been following this blog for over a year, you know we used to keep the chickens in a chicken tractor.April 13 13 - 0024 It is a great idea (fertilize lawn while enclosing chickens) but it does not work as wonderfully as we had hoped. Come to find out, this is the case with everyone I know (personally) who has tried using a chicken tractor.

My neighbor suggested covering the chicken tractor with plastic and turning it into a greenhouse. Genius! That is exactly the plan for this winter. I am thinking I will transplant some of the cabbage and broccoli into an area of the garden (Where? I don’t know yet.) and put the chicken tractor over them to keep them safe from cabbage butterflies in the fall and freezes in the winter.

I have three or four extra PVC pipes left over from various garden projects. I am thinking I can make another small hoop house by putting rebar into the ground and slipping the PVC pipes over them, then have a cover over that. Maybe I can fit the rest of the broccoli and cabbage under there.

Kale can stand cold weather better than other crops so I think I’ll use extra wire from our electric fencing and just cover those plants when temperatures get really cold.

I think I’ll plant lettuce and spinach in my 4×4 raised beds. Those are low-lying crops and easy to cover with wire and a row cover/plastic.

I don’t need to cover the root crops. My ground does not really freeze with all of this mulch insulating it so carrots are pretty easy to pull, even in the dead of winter.

Of course I am hoping that once all of these things are harvested, I will be able to use the warmer hoop houses to get seedlings started in the spring! I will keep you updated on how everything is going. Are you planting a fall garden? We can learn from each other! 🙂

I am linking up with Green Thumb Thursday to see what other gardeners/homesteaders are doing this time of year.

Harvest Monday

June 16, 2014


I went to pick some more peas this week…to find that they had stopped flowering and there were only a few which had not plumped up. I guess it was time to rip them out! I love getting fresh peas but they are one of the harder crops to harvest and shelling them is rough on one’s fingers so I was not too upset that the spring pea season was over!Nieto Family - June 08 14 - 0588(That bowl wasn’t quite big enough…had to get another one)Nieto Family - June 08 14 - 0900We got a good crop this year (thank you Kitty for keeping the bunnies away!). The second planting produced long pods and fat peas.Nieto Family - June 07 14 - 0007(my husband’s hand 😉 )

The chickens LOVE the pea shells and we put a tunnel over the area so some chickens could eat the rest of the aphids before we planted something else…Nieto Family - June 13 14 - 0096

We are lightly steaming this batch of peas each night. The kids decided they like them better this way (rather than raw).


My daughter wanted to pull her carrots. The tops looked so wonderful, she felt sure they were ready 😉 We allowed her to pull one but she pulled and pulled and NOTHING. I pulled and pulled and still, it would not budge! I got a trowel out to help and I finally got most of the carrot up, but not before the top ripped off and the bottom broke off as well. We tried pulling another one and the same thing happened. I find it very interesting that the carrots look so good (very straight and very long) and yet, they were impossible to pull…interesting. We convinced her to leave the rest of her carrots in the ground. They definitely need more time to plump up.

Nieto Family - June 08 14 - 0860

Spinach and Lettuce

I harvested the last of the bolting spinach this week and ripped up the plants. Even though we love spinach and will miss our spinach salads, we are getting a TON of lettuce.Nieto Family - June 14 14 - 0001


Even with the biweekly plantings, we still do not have enough kale! You heard me correctly…we would eat sauteed kale or kale salads every day if it were up to us. One day I’ll get the hang of all that needs to be planted…one day…

And last but Certainly not least…


Earlier this week, I was able to pick enough for everyone to have one. Later in the week, we got a handful (literally) of blueberries.DSC_4503 This week is going to be insanely busy — I think it will work out really well because I think this is the last week of easy-going gardening. Starting next week and not ending until the end of July, harvests will pick up, blueberries being one of them.

Too bad the kids want to start schooling again next week (we took a break after the baby was born). And, no, they cannot help me harvest the blueberries. The 1yo has been banned from the blueberry patch because he keeps picking unripe berries. He follows his older siblings around so if they help, he’ll want to help. ‘Good thing’ the baby has been feeding around 4 or 5am so I’ll be able to get in some harvesting before it gets too hot and before the kids wake up.


  • Picking squash and potato bugs every day
  • Pruning tomato plants about once a week
  • Planting carrots, lettuce, kale, cucumbers, zucchini
  • Starting the Fall Garden by planting celery and cabbage
  • Ripped up the spinach, broccoli and cabbage (the worms got to them and they were pretty much destroyed — the chickens LOVED the worms!…I WILL cover the plants this fall!)

Fall Garden

As you may or may not know, I do not have a seed starting area in my house. Our house is in the woods so growing things in a window is impossible. I refuse to spend money on lights, etc…not to mention there is no room for any of that stuff.

Each year, I just do my best direct seeding…many times nothing comes up (too hot when they need to be started) but sometimes I get a few crops. This year, I am playing with some ideas. This week I implemented one of them: starting seeds in the sunflower boxes. This way, they still get sun but also get some shade throughout the day.

When the seedlings are big enough, I will transplant them into the overflow garden where I plan on covering them for the winter with the chicken tractor-turned hoophouse. This week, I planted celery and cabbage in the sunflower box. I had no luck with celery this spring but thought I would try again in the Fall Garden. I really hope I can figure out how to grow celery one day (soon) because we eat (and juice) a TON of it!


Hopefully, next week I’ll be telling you about new chicks (they are due this Friday)! I hope all of these aren’t duds as well.

We’re still getting about 14-16 eggs/day 🙂 We are trying to find new ways to eat them. We are steaming them, eating a lot more omelets, and just recently we made egg salad for the first time ever. It was a HIT!

I am playing around with freezing eggs for the winter as well. I froze some in ice cube trays. They are nearly impossible to pop out :\ I think I am just going to freeze them in little zip baggies and nestle those in a freezer bag. We eat at least 8 at a time anyway (if I’m cooking for all the children). It’s really not worth it to freeze them individually.

Check out what everyone else is harvesting and what they are doing with their harvests at Daphne’s Dandelions 🙂

Harvest Monday

September 23, 2013

This week, we harvested beans, tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, a baby cucumber, and eggs 🙂

September 21 13 - 0082 September 21 13 - 0090August 30 13 - 0022We are up to two eggs/day now. I’m sorry if it seems as though I am complaining all the time about our chickens and I am really excited we are getting eggs at all but…2 eggs!? From 19 hens!

Only two Australorps are laying. No Orpingtons yet. And we’re going on 29 weeks. Insane. I can’t believe I am still buying eggs from the store! Please tell me they aren’t going to moult before they lay even one egg!?

Are you still harvesting? Are you getting fall crops yet? Check out what everyone else is harvesting at Daphne’s Dandelions 🙂